An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Christmas in New York 2014

I lie here in bed next to my snoring husband as I hammer out this post on my iPhone. It’s a quarter to 9 in the morning and I’ve already pottered around the house doing some chores – mostly laundry and lunch prep. We got home close to 11pm last night after flying out of New York State through Syracuse airport. We had originally gotten tickets in and out of JFK but the trauma of driving through New York City traffic after we arrived summoned our courage to spend another $2k to change our exit arrangements. So unlike the previous trips, we never ventured back into the city again.

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Our first stop was Nanuet where T’s grandmother still lived in the house his mother grew up in. It’s been there since the 40s and T’s Grandfather Swanson built it. We however checked ourselves into the Candlewood Suites, just 5 minutes away from that house, and stayed 2 nights. Good price, very nice amenities, updated interior, clean and spacious. So I don’t know what the fuss and low ratings for this place is for. And considering that we’ve stayed in at least 4 other hotels this year, I can say that we have a good idea of what decent accommodation entails.

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Christmas Eve was a cosy and quiet affair – just Grammy, T’s mom and the both of us. We had some spaghetti and meatballs, opened some presents, ate cookies and cake, then watched tv.

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On Christmas Day, we had brunch at his Aunt Kathy’s house (I also met his cousin Ray and his wife Sveva, who are doctors who live in Maine, for the first time) then we drove over 4 hours across upstate New York to Cato, near Syracuse, where T’s mom recently bought a house. One woman, 9 acres of land and a 3 bedroom house. Gulp! We spent another 2 nights there with her – a quiet Christmas dinner after a long day of driving, then the next day she showed us around her new hometown. We also went to her favourite junk shop – Ruby’s Antiques and Gifts. You see, as a retired nurse, she has a lot of time on her hands and she’s always itching to create and fix things up. Most of the furniture in her house were bought and refinished by herself. And other than gardening, she loves thrifting.

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Our last visit with T’s east coast family is another 3+hours drive away in the Adirondack region. His mother’s brother Uncle Joe owns 100 acres of land there and has recently added a huge mansion they custom built. They had an existing cabin which they use as a weekend retreat and hunting lodge for years. We had such a nice time with even more family – his cousin Patty’s family (husband and 3 kids) were there from Massachusetts too.

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And because the main house isn’t all completed yet, there wasn’t enough space to house all of us, we got to spend 2 nights in the cabin!! I thought it was a bit exciting and a bit scary all at once but I’m so glad we had the opportunity. I’m actually alright sleeping anywhere as long as I can take a hot shower and wash my hair in the morning after I get up. But a hunting cabin in the woods is pretty darn cool!

And that was our Christmas in New York. My favourite part about Christmas is family, then maybe followed closely by the feasting hahaha…


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Goodbye New York!

T and I got home to Las Vegas just before 9pm last night. Our DELTA flight from JFK to McCarran took us about 5 hours and the taxi ride home was about 20 minutes.

We spent the last 5 days and 4 nights in upstate New York – amidst lush quiet greenery just across the Hudson River. I had a great time visiting T’s family and a wonderful stay at his Uncle and Aunt’s ranch house. (Not far from a cute ice cream parlour called Weir’s – YUM!!)

20130909-212550.jpgT’s uncle is a manly man who is handy with all things mechanical – fixing and building; his Aunt is the hostess with the mostest – great cook and decorator. I understand now why T was so looking forward to staying at their home.

I was introduced to as many people as possible yet it remained a leisurely trip. The last 2 weeks, I rather missed being in a big city and I’ve always loved taking the trains in foreign countries (mostly to get lost, wander aimlessly exploring and people watch). Our day trip to NYC satiated that for now.

With that said, I’m glad I’m back in our home in Enterprise, Las Vegas. There, I said it. I’m beginning to feel more and more like this is home, our home.

On this trip, I’ve gotten to know more of this man – he is a big, quirky man-child who interprets the world in ways that I sometimes don’t see but am curious to be led into. We’ve travelled quite a bit together in the last 6 months and from the get-go, we’ve always worked great as a team. T is very giving and it makes me very happy to go with what he wants to do too. It’s very much a “let’s take turns to flip our Choose Your Own Adventure book“. I love it!

20130909-212607.jpgT’s mother who now cares for his Grammy and lives with her in Nanuet has a beautiful garden that she happily showed me around. It’s a garden I wish I had! As much as T has done a great job with the house in Vegas, it’s still a desert climate. The flowers and shrubbery lovingly cultivated by my future mother-in-law is one I envy! Also Grammy’s house is a cute red cottage with the quaintest decor – not unlike the ones I used to fantasise about and build/furnish in The Sims!

20130909-212614.jpgOther than visiting homes, I loved the time we spent bonding with T’s mother. She told me stories about the family, showed me lots of old photos including adorable ones of T growing up, and also took us to an artisan village kinda place called Sugar Loaf – one of those places T used to go to when he was little. There were many shops with handmade crafts – soaps, pottery, wooden signages, crochet goods, containers and country-style decor made of gourds etc. A few shops were shut and it was relatively quiet when we went though. We assumed that it would be livelier on the weekends when most shops would be open for business.

I love that I got to see the places where T grew up. The streets he used to live on, his old haunts and where he went to school. Speaking of which, his old High School is just across from the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets! I went there yesterday with his Aunt a few hours before we had to leave for the airport. I was quite restraint because I need to make my money stretch and I only bought a pair of TIMBERLAND hiking boots (USD62 with tax). T’s Aunt bought me a stretchy belt from NINE WEST for the low low price of USD2.59 with tax – Hello, can we say SCORE!!!!!

That’s the thing with being on a long holiday – you have all the time in the world to shop but no money. But really, I don’t need those extras though. Being on a budget made me think twice, thrice and again.

20130909-212559.jpgTalking about tight budgets, I’m glad to announce that we spent a total of USD146 on our day trip to NYC. $33 for bus tickets from Monroe to the Port Authority Bus Terminal (thanks to Aunt K), $30 for both our Metro cards, $7 for ice cream at Baskin Robbins, $20 for large smoothies & lunch at Jamba Juice, $6 for 3 bottles of cider at a farmer’s market in downtown Brooklyn (1 bottle was for Katie whose awesome apartment we visited in Brooklyn), and $50 (including a cash tip) for the both of us when we had dinner with his cousins at Sofia’s in Little Italy (good call by T’s cousin D).

20130909-212623.jpgI got to see different parts of NYC – downtown Brooklyn, Times Square, almost the entire stretch of 5th Avenue, Central Park (special thanks to T’s cousin E & his girlfriend A for the special tour of the best bits), and Little Italy. We passed by several landmarks that I’ve always seen on TV or in movies – Rockefeller Center, the Flatiron Building, Empire State Building, Tiffany & Co, Trump Towers…

I think we did well for my first trip and most definitely would have many more to come…

Thank you and adieu New York, the Empire State. Till we meet again…